What if Mitch Kupchak wasn’t one of the best GM’s in the league?

A man that has assembled a championship team, who isn’t satisfied with just one championship, the thrill of victory makes him hungry for more.

Whether it was the devastating loss in the Finals to Boston in 2008, or the last two seasons in which the Lakers have won it all, Mitch Kupchak continues to improve the roster year in and year out.

One may say he is never satisfied, that he always looks forward to the next season.

We all know what he is most famous for, trading away Kwame Brown for All-Star Pau Gasol.

But what about Brian Cook for Trevor Ariza, or Vladimir Radmonivic for Shannon Brown, signing Ron Artest to the MLE, bringing in Steve Blake, or Matt Barnes at the vets minimum.

Or what about not doing anything at all.

When Kobe wanted the Lakers to trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd, he said no.

When Lakers fans were panicking, he didn’t ship out Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom for Jermaine O’Neal.

He did nothing.

May 31, 2007 Kobe Bryant asks to be traded.

Sorry Kobe, you’re staying put!

Which could prove to be, the most successful non-move in NBA history.

The closest deal that almost got done was Kobe Bryant to the Bulls in exchange for Loul Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon, and Joakim Noah.

We’ll never know how close the Lakers actually were to separating with Kobe Bryant, but in this age of the superstars always getting their way. Kupchak pretty much said to Kobe, “You’re going to be a Laker, so deal with it”

These non-moves were just the beginning of this dynasty.

If Kupchak trades Kobe in the summer of 2007, what does the league look like in 2010?

The Lakers wouldn’t be back-to-back champions, Kobe would be up in Chicago with Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Wallace. Pau Gasol may still be in Memphis.

The Celtics might have two more championships; maybe Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets knock off the Orlando Magic in 2009 to win the NBA Championship.

Kobe Bryant would be beaten in the playoffs one year by Orlando, the next by Boston.

The only reason the Super Team was built in Miami was to compete with this edition of the Lakers, so LeBron probably stays in Cleveland.

Phil Jackson retires with 9 rings, always tied to Red Auerbach, never separating himself as the best coach ever.

Kobe never wins a ring again, and goes down in history as Shaq’s sidekick.

You get the idea, Mitch Kupchak, (and Jerry Buss’s) patience, is the reason the Lakers are back to back champions looking for another 3-peat.

Most successful people are patient, putting money in a long term investment, takes patience, doing hard work and paying your dues to conquer your dream takes patience. It seems as if wise people, are almost always patient, as the old quote proves, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.

The other GM’s that have not learned this essential trait need to look specifically at what Mitch Kupchak didn’t do in the summer of 2007.

I’m sure there were some dark nights in his office, in which he said to himself “Am I doing the right thing?”.

He had a little hope, a little faith, and a lot of patience, and he might have been the only man, whether it be a player, fan, or expert that had his head on straight in that summer of 2007.

Lakers fans are glad that “the only man”, with these essential qualities, was in charge.

Because if it wasn’t for that man, they wouldn’t be licking their chops in anticipation for a  3rd straight title.

David Brickley is a staff writer, and host of The Voice of the Nation podcast on TLN. You can view more of his work at davidjbrickley.com

  • Jay-Mc_Cain

    Woooooord Up!

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    it helps when the NBA is so frickn watered down you get these paper champions……nasty-weak


      That’s why you fessing on here you chump. You closetLaker lover.. you love the Lakers- Yo- Yet another worthless childish opinion by a pokemon poster- talk about shit you know about like Pokemon cards and anime, not ball.

    • Lakers2000

      Gotta love this guys drive by postings. Hey laffs atu, wipe the vaseline off your keyboard! Haa Haa!


      whats a paper champion??to me it sounds like a winning team that actually has not won an official n.b.a. title that sound like lebra teams,so for once i agree with you for once i hate a player who has the best team,but yet can’t lead them to a title. so yeah! fucka paper champion!!!

      • jayo

        A “paper champion” is history in the sense that on any NBA or for that matter any sports book will have the Lakers in print that L.A. beat boston in 7 gaames to win the 2010 NBA Finals.

        • Showtime4eva

          Yeah that what I mean, “paper champions”around here we win the real thing. This loser talks paper because he doesn’t know anything about a real championship.

  • David

    For the past several years, I’ve heard that Mitch was a terrible GM. The radio, the newspapers, my coworkers. They all hated Mitch while I stood by the guy.
    But now… things are changing. Yes.
    Before I end this, can I just say… can we stop comparing him to Buss? It’s like why focus on what he isn’t when you can focus on what he is — a great GM.

    • jayo

      Well you must have been the only one who stood by him because until the Gasol trade Mitch was not the name most Lakers fans called him. I can remember he waas referred to as a female dog Kupchak. With all the recent success we have enjoyed with Mitch at the helm I cannot forget that he (though Dr. Buss is the real GM) did nothing to improve our bench when Shaq was still here and did nothing for 3.5 years (once again Dr. Buss is the real culprit on this one) and wasted 3 years of Kobes prime.

      • stucktrader

        there was one point where he could have used the MLE to pick up Billups instead of resigning Devan George. oops… Then after they were one shot (Rob actually missed this time to his future team – Spurs) from getting to the Finals and Four-peating over the surprising Cavs… Mitch decides to send Horry away and a couple pieces that could have still won.

        He then brings in Payton and Malone… it seemed great during the 1st half of that regular season… but they were past their prime. Malone tho was still good, but got injured. Payton maybe til this day doesn’t understand the triangle.

        In the end, Mitch LEARNED… not just working with West, but on his own…

        If they three-peat… and the NBA can avert a lockout, then imagine who else can come the Lakers way.

  • laker warrior

    Mitch is a good man. Yeah he has made some bone head contracts. But he has gave L A a team that is so highly
    Go Mitch go. Rudy Fernadez is way better than Shanon

    • BigSal

      No doubt you were a former Mitch basher now while sucking up to him you give him cheap shot. Shannon brown for Fernandez that is not happening. smh

  • 242LakerFan

    You can’t argue with a record like this man has. The moves he didn’t make were as good as the ones he did. He built the team back into a champion (without a lot of high draft picks) and has a chance to stay in contention for another several years.
    Not too shabby considering the shadow from which he is emerging.

  • gugy

    Mitch has done a good job lately, but his start as GM was rocky. He made bad moves, paid too much for scrubs(Sasha/Rad/Luke)and put Kobe on a tricky position asking for a trade. Truth the matter we wasted 3 years of Kobe’s prime when he had Kwame and Smush.
    Yes things turn out alright and we are great now, but I would not praise the guy 100%.
    I hope he keep doing the right things and learned lessons by his past mistakes.

    • BigSal

      Another former Mitch basher and don’t know the history of those contracts. Plus how did he put kobe in a tricky position? YOu and Kobe should be shining Mitch’s shoes for what he did and did not do as GM.

  • Flow

    If allowing Kobe and the reputation of the Lakers to bring in talent, then Mitch Kupchak is great. No justification for playing hardball with Lamar Odum, Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Ariza, Turiaf, and Matt Barnes… all contributors or potential contributors while giving Luke Walton (crappy), Vlad Rad (crappy), Sasha(crappy) and Steve Blake (makes more than fisher, barnes, Farmar asked, and Shannon Brown, I hope he’s really good), great contracts with minimal negotiation involved. Ron Artest came because of Kobe, he said it, Matt Barnes came because of Kobe, he said it. Jerry West was deeply involved in acquiring Pau Gasol, we all know it. And I seriously doubt Mitch got tough with Kobe… please. The best deals Mitch has done was to draft Bynum and get Shannon for nothing when he was actually trying to dump a mistake. The Lakers are way over the cap in part because of Sasha and Luke just being way overpaid. Not knocking him, he is a decent GM, but keep it real.

    • 242LakerFan

      Again, show me a GM who has made nothing but the right moves. If it were just about team reputation bringing in talent, then a potty-trained orangutan could do this job. You still have to make the money work, especially now.
      The Vujacic and Walton contracts were made when the economy was riding high and no one cared much about the cap. The league is filled with contracts like that now that people are trying to dump. In the last couple of years, when money’s gotten tight, he’s managed to keep a championship team together and even improve it with minimal added expense by hardballing Ariza, Odom etc. That’s a damn good job.
      Nobody’s saying he’s the best GM the league has ever seen, but after that rocky start, he’s redeemed himself and been a bit more than “decent”. I’d say outstanding.

    • LakersFirst

      You are incorrect about West. Jerry West was not even employed at that time with the Grizzlies. He even went on to say that I had nothing to do with that trade and that the Grizzlies should have demanded Odom. You can read it here:


      “West criticizes Gasol trade

      Former Grizzlies president Jerry West told NBA-TV that the Griz would have received more in the 2008 Pau Gasol trade if they shopped him around.

      “I don’t know why they did that (deal),” West said.

      West’s main problem with Gasol-to-the-Lakers was that the Grizzlies’ didn’t insist on getting Lamar Odom.

      Just keeping it real

      • daboss1848

        shhh – the kids dont like facts around here!!!!
        West did the deal and thats that – anything and everything else is a cover up, conspiracy, propaganda!!!!

    • BigSal

      Kobe brought in talent? Kobe played ball and himself said he is no gm. Ron Artest came because Mitch built a championship team and not just one player.

      Another laker fan without knowledge and sense.

  • http://nba.com John Robertson
  • xavier

    He has the room to make the moves this summer, it wasn’t the case in the past. Signing Vujacic ect, seemed like good ideas at the time. Just like signing Barnes, Blake, Ratliff.

    But this is basketball, you can sign LeBron and be the best GM in the world, but if he retires due to injury 6 months later, what are you, a bad GM?

    He’s making the best choices possible to keep the heart of the team.

    After a few mistakes when he started, by now he’s on the top, Pat Riley is quite a guy too.

    When you have Kobe helping out with the recruitment and a double-world champ it helps also…

    Now, most of the teams is signed for many years, and I don’t expect all of them to perform for 2-3 more years, it will be Mitch’s job to find the best solutions.

  • Flow

    Why hardball contributors like Odom and Ariza and give non-cotributors like Walton, Sasha and Vlad Rad great contracts. Not to knock Mitch, but he was a comedy of errors early and had decent moves late. But the prime pieces of th Laker dynasty with the exception of Bynum, were not primarily through his efforts. Again, I actually think he’s adequate, but give credit where credit is due. No justification for hardballing guys like Derek Fisher and paying Steve Blake an unproven second string guard way more. I think Kobe has a lot to do with these guys resigning because of loyalty to him and the organization. Artest, Barnes, Fisher… they said it.

    • BigSal

      Pau, Bynum, Odom, Artest… and more were obtained because of Mitch. smh again

    • Keyturn


      I see your point, and it would be valid IF and only IF their was no such thing as a league wide SALARY CAP rule.

      While negotiating Walton, Sasha, and Vlads contracts, LAL didn’t have top tier talent, only guys making top dollar at their positions on the team where Kobe and Kwame, so LAL had money to spend, they were UNDER the cap in negotiations.

      Meanwhile Sasha negotiated his curent deal after the ’08 finals, where he averaged career highs in points rebounds and assist. He looked to be a player on the raise. At the time Phil liked him, & he has the perfect build of a Phil SG 6’7″, so I personally believe he was awarded that contract on size and potential alone. And Mitch didn’t just GIVE the guy that contract, Sasha’s deal was completed toward the end on the summer of ’08, meaning there was a ton of negotiating involved.

      Any LA sports fan SHOULD know the impact that Vlad had with the Clips, 40+% 3 pt shooter. There was a bidding war for his services, and he actually took slightly less money to say in LA (as a Laker). Similar to Mike Miller this season. Vlads failing were he didn’t take Phil’s system seriously, he didn’t fit into the triangle, and he sucks on defense.

      To bring things to the present, while negotiating Odom, Ariza, & Fisher’s contracts, you have to keep in mind that Mitch has a boss just like the rest of us, and the boss said he didn’t want to spend over X $s, cuz the team was already well over the cap with the new contracts of Kobe, Gasol, Bynum’s mid season pay raise, and the hindsighted bad deals of Sasha & Luke.

      LAL didn’t play hardball with Ariza, Ariza’s agent played hardball with LAL. Mitch offered Ariza the mid-level, the same deal, same money he agree to in HOU. In essence the mid-level was over a 50% raise to Ariza’s prior earnings. Ariza’s agent thought he could squeeze even more out of LAL, but he was sadly mistaken.

      No one can foresee the future so LAL had to make a move on either Ariza (who was being courted by CLE, HOU, POR, and LAL) or Artest, 2 of the top FAs of the summer of ’09. Unfortunately for Ariza, Artest jumped at the opportunity to become a Laker, and when you listen to Ariza talk about the situation, you can hear in his voice that he still is unhappy about the situation, he sounds like he wanted to remain a Laker, blame Ariza’s agent, not Mitch.

      When it comes to LO, the dude killed his own negotiations by admitting that he wasn’t going anywhere and he was happy to be a Laker while on the market, (too much candy that day LOL) If you recall LO had no serious offers cuz teams didn’t want to be used as pawns in LOs attempt to get more money out of LA. LO was also hampered by the fact teams didn’t want to over spend last summer cuz they all had hope of signing a huge FA in the summer of ’10.

      And lastly Fish was asking for too much money. Reports were Fish wanted 5m per, in no basketball world is Fish worth 5m per at the age of 36.

      So although your point is valid, their are many underlying issues that sculpt situations, and outcomes of deals. The NBA landscape, is full of grey areas, everything isn’t just black and white.

      Overall Mitch has done an excellent job, although his first couple of years post Shaq were a little rocky in hindsight, he’s righted his wrongs, to the tune of back-2-back championships with and opportunity for a third.

      In Mitch we trust.

    • ThEMVP

      Blake is unproven but he’s worth what he’s worth though- Mitch also didn’t hit the $5MILL #. For a dude who will be getting a ton of burn during the season its a good salary. He’s not a worthless punk he will contribute 6 assists almost every night, that’s a big help we never got in the past. You are getting exactly what you pay for.. Now, others got overpaid, and it doesn’t take a genious to figure out..

  • Ron Hawk

    Mitch has definitely made many right moves in the last few years and a few really bad ones. I agree that the best move that Mitch made was nothing in 2007 when Kobe demanded to be traded. He said he wouldn’t trade Kobe unless it was for equal value, and nothing came up so no move was made. He should have done the exact same thing with Shaq. The Shaq trade was a disaster because it wasn’t for equal value, and the Lakers dearly paid for it. While there was some value in Butler and Odom, the worst part of that deal was Brian Grant’s ridiculous contract. Mitch should have waited for the right deal to come along or not dealt him at all. I don’t think having kept Shaq for another year or two would have worked out any worse than the titanic failures between 2004 and 2008.

    The three other bad moves were: letting Fish go in 2004, signing Sasha and Walton to hefty contracts with no way out. These contracts were made after those two players had a slightly above average seasons. In all, I would have signed them too, but not to 6 mil/year for 5-6 years (Walton) and 5 mil/year for 3 years (Sasha). There are plenty of other players at the same skill level or better that could have been had for much less money. I hope the Lakers find a way to get rid of these two unproductive players.

    Overall though, Mitch seems to have settled down and I like the trend of the deals he has made in the last year or so. I like the Fish signings (both times), the Artest and Barnes deal, I like letting the undersized and inconsistent Farmar go and I hope they can resign Shannon Brown but not to the hefty contracts that Walton and Sasha got. I hate this business of players having one good year, signing long, lucrative deals and then losing their stuff. The big money goes to their head and rots them just like with Walton and Sasha. After one lucrative contract they are set for life so they are not hungry any more.

    • LakersFirst

      Regarding the Shaq trade, the Lakers really did not have time to shop around for Shaq, like they did for Kobe (and yes they did shop Kobe). The reason..that same year Kobe was a free agent and odd are Kobe was not going to resign with the Lakers if they kept Shaq. They needed to trade Shaq to resign Kobe.

      Letting Fish go in 2004 was because the team was retooling, plus Fisher was offered a 4 year, $36M contract by Golden state and the Lakers didn’t want to match it.

      The problem with Walton’s contract was that it was too long (6 years). Ever since then, no Laker player has received a 6 year deal.

      Which takes us to Sasha’s contract, which was only for 3 years. The reason why the Lakers (or any NBA team for that matter) sign players to 3 years is because 3 years is the minimum to obtain full Bird rights to a player.

      • Dave

        I agree with everything you wrote! The only bad move was Walton, but at the time, he was the heady guy they needed. Should have been for 3-4 years because he wouldn’t have received that type of contract elsewhere. Every other move is justified.

  • richard

    He’s greatest move is trade Paul Gasol, he is no doubt the piece that make Lakers go deep in the playoff and win the title.

  • laker warrior

    Thats was Jerry West parting gift to the Grizzles. Mitch just had to guide the trade. It was already in place.
    As far as Blake for Fisher . Well nobody can ever do what D fish has done. But he is 36 and cant run with T Parker,Nash,Paul,Westbrook,Daron B Roy. So Blake will cover them. Plus Blake is solid player. He dos enot back down to to many guys. Hes the J Williams but younger and way better.

    • LakersFirst

      You are incorrect about West. Jerry West was not even employed at that time with the Grizzlies. He even went on to say that I had nothing to do with that trade and that the Grizzlies should have demanded Odom. You can read it here:


      “West criticizes Gasol trade

      Former Grizzlies president Jerry West told NBA-TV that the Griz would have received more in the 2008 Pau Gasol trade if they shopped him around.

      “I don’t know why they did that (deal),” West said.

      West’s main problem with Gasol-to-the-Lakers was that the Grizzlies’ didn’t insist on getting Lamar Odom.

      • Laker s Army

        Dude the reason why he says that is to cover up the stupidest trade in NBA history.
        John Irland ,Mychael Thompson all the guys on 570 always say how West made that trade. I know you want to be right but every beat writer in town says that Jerry made that trade happen. It seems like your stuck on this I cant see why your so hung on on it. Who cares we got a ferrari for a yugo enjoy the ride.

        • BigSal

          West had no official position. The desire of Memphis to save money and the fact that the lakers had the highest expiring contract in Kwame (a card Mitch kept when most advantageous) was the reason we got the deal done. Plus Mitch had the player of the year in Europe in Marc Gasol has a chip too. Doesn’t look like a stupid trade when you consider all factors but you didn’t bother. Learn next time.

      • LakersFirst

        Laker’s Army

        Keep enjoying those conspiracy theories. .

        Why would Jerry West want to cover up anything> He has nothing to gain or lose by saying he wasn’t involved? He has no reason to care either way.

        Like I said, keep enjoying those conspiracy theories. The next one you’ll believe is that the NBA is secretly conspiring against all the teams in the East and allowing superstar players to go there so the Lakers can have an easy road to the finals and win another championship, so we can have “who is better” debate, MJ vs KB.

  • i0ioooooi0i

    real talk: we need another big man.

    • 242LakerFan


      • KwameMVP

        @242, cause that makes him sound like he knows what he’s talking about, even though, really he doesn’t.

        • 242LakerFan


          • ThEMVP

            I always wonder why people say the Lakers need another big man. If you look down the roster we have around 5, just off top my head who are 6’9 and plus. Even last year Mbenga got ZERO burn and Theo is a nice pickup at that spot, he’s certainly more fundamentally sound and a better blocker so I expect him to contribute more than Mbenga. Our rotation is deep at that spot anyway.

  • Carlos Osorio

    Just be satisfied Lakers fans. We all make mistakes in our lives. Obviously Mitch Kupchack has made them as well. Things went the way they did and lets just enjoy this run. There has not been a dynasty like this in all of sports. Hell, afterwards if we become like the Boston Celtics when they were irrelevant for 20 plus years then yes, thats when we need to complain.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu


    • Wilt

      U know look at it like this 6-24 and they still won the championship so whats worse shooting 6-24 or losing to a guy who shot 6-24. i think id rather shoot 6-24 and win it all than shoot 24-24 and lose.


      but what you cant get through your stupid head is kobe was hurt an still won 5 championships and counting.now lebra lied about his elbow being hurt and had a melt down choke up series,SERIES!!! every year and never won EVER because he’s chicken shit and can not I repeat can not be a premiere player . now you tell me now who is better kobe or lebra? give us an answer once and for all .. tell us why enlighten us

    • 242LakerFan

      It still beats LeBron’s shooting percentage in Finals game 7’s, which I may remind you is 0-0. For that matter, he has exactly the same numbers in game 6’s and game 5’s as well. Nice.
      Here’s laffing atu, kid.

      • laffatu2x

        i will laugh at u and say kobe made up 4 his shitty performance offensively by grabbing 15 boards..
        ” hey my shots not falling then im gunna be like Elgin Baylor and grab boards” bam lakers win title

        • ThEMVP

          He keeps playing the low scoring card. Old. Tired. It’s like I didn’t read it for the 10 thousandth time, he wishes he could kiss Kobe’s pinky ring like he kisses Lepr0n’s ass. LMAO

  • pio2u

    Mitch is on a roll

  • lakers0828

    He has done great things for us Mitch kupchake is great GM definitely making his name in Laker greats

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